Brougham Hall

Brougham Hall Near Penrith

Brougham Hall Near Penrith

Brougham Hall

Brougham Hall (pronounced Broom Hall) was the historic home of the Brougham family before falling into ruins in the 1930’s. The hall is situated but a short drive from Brougham Castle and a mile south of the market town of Penrith. There is currently free parking in a small car park situated just outside of the main entrance to the hall.

A fortified home has existed upon the elevated site since the late 1400. The Broughams of Brougham (Westmorland) became extinct in 1608.

The oldest part of the hall is the Tudor building, which dates back to around 1500 and was once the scene of a bloody battle between the English and the Scots. Brougham Hall was extended and enlarged between 1830 and 1847.

Brougham Hall and Lady Anne Clifford

Brougham Hall had been repaired in the 17th Century by Lady Anne Clifford, and then became the home of her agent, John Bird. A James Bird purchased the estate in 1676. In 1726, it was repossessed and purchased by Commissioner John Brougham of Scales Hall (Cumberland), who brought the estate back into the Brougham family. His great grandson Henry Peter later became Lord Chancellor of England.

Rebuilding of Brougham Hall took place in 1829 – 1847 and again in the 1860s when Lord Brougham, the Lord Chancellor, lived in the home. It became known as the Windsor of the North due to the visits by King Edward VII and the future King George VI. The hall being on route to Balmoral Castle in Scotland played host to Royalty on a number of occasions.

During the early twentieth century there was a secret tank development facility at Brougham Hall. The project was known as Canal Defence Light (CDL). A plaque at the hall remembers the men who worked there during the war. There is also a bunker that was used during World War II.

Sadly it was the 4th Baron Brougham and Vaux, Victor Henry Peter Brougham, who is responsible for the demise of Brougham Hall. Acquiring the hall at an early age, and his worldly inexperience and early wealth saw his spendthrift lifestyle and professional gambling mount up debts leading eventually to the sale of its treasures and ultimately the Hall itself.

Neighbour, Major  Cowper, who had a grudge to bear against the Brougham’s took advantage Victor’s mismanagement and bought Brougham Hall and estate in 1934. He revengefully presided over the stripping and sad demolition of Brougham Hall. Between the two great wars, many large British Houses went the same way as costs escalated and the landed gentry came to terms with a new social order.

Brougham Hall and grounds are reportedly haunted by sounds of soldiers battling in the middle of the night, world war soldiers marching and various people who were employed at the property including a woman called Emily and a boy who died there. Henry Brougham who lived there in the nineteenth century was reported to be highly interested in spirituality and his spirit and that of his brother William are also said to have been felt by visitors to the hall.

The hall was investigated in the Living TV series Most Haunted, where the team supposedly communicated with the spirits of Emily, the boy and Henry Brougham during a séance and moved a heavy table across the room without explanation.

Today with a restoration program underway which began in 1985, with volunteers helping, the hall is open to visitors throughout the year. There is a range of craft workshops, a tea room and a gift shop established within the impressive outer walls.

Brougham Hall Door Knocker

Of great interest is the very unusual door knocker at the hall which is located within the outer walls upon an old wooden door, near the road, opposite the car park. With only four examples of this door knocker, a 12th century design, exist: two in Durham and two from Brougham.

The original graced the north door of Durham Cathedral from 1172 to 1977, when it was removed to the safety of the Cathedral Treasury and replaced with a replica, cast by the British Museum.

Both the Durham rings where made of bronze with the original Brougham ring made of iron. The Brougham Hall ring survived the War but was stolen, crated and sent to Sotheby’s for auction. In an attempt to replace it, Collier’s foundry in Sussex in1993, began the laborious task of drawing a replica from which the monster’s head was carved in wood. A sand mould was taken from the wooden head and finally cast in bronze in seven pieces.  Thus a new replacement door knocker was made for Brougham Hall.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Brougham Hall please visit Brougham Hall on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Brougham Hall as I did and Brougham Castle is only a short distance away by car or you could even walk to the castle.

Long Meg Stone Circle

Long Meg Stone Circle

Long Meg Stone Circle

Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle, Penrith

Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle, which is also known as Maughanby Circle, is a Bronze Age stone circle located near to Penrith in Cumbria, North West England. Long Meg is a mile or so to the north of the Lakeland village of Little Selkeld off the A686 Penrith to Alston road, and there stands this impressive stone circle.

When visiting the site, a track runs through the circle to a farm and it is possible to park a vehicle on the verge in the field containing the stone circle.

The stone circle of Long Meg is the sixth largest example known from this part of north-western Europe, whilst the third largest stone circle in England after Avebury and Stanton Drew. The site is also thought to be one of the earliest, dating from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age.

Long Meg Stone Circle

Long Meg and her Daughters consist of 51 stones of which 27 remain upright (the largest of which is 29 tons). The stones are set in an oval shape, measuring 94 metres north-south and 109 metres east-west on its long axis. The overall diameter of the circle is 106 metres. It is possible that there may have been as many as 70 stones at the site.

There is an entrance to the southwest that is flanked by a pair of stones just outside the stone circle.

The largest outlying stone is Long Meg herself, the ‘mother stone’ which is 3.6m high and is thought to weigh about 9 tonnes, a monolith of red sandstone 18m to the southwest of the circle made by her daughters. Long Meg is marked with examples of megalithic art, which includes a cup and rings of concentric circles. These carvings face away from the circle, a fact which has prompted speculation that the stone was erected at a different time period from the circle.

It is interesting to note that the four corners of the Long Meg stone are facing the points of the compass and standing some 18.28 metres (60 feet) outside the circle.

When the standing stone of Long Meg is viewed from the centre of the circle the monolith aligns with the midwinter sunset.  It is not known exactly what the stone circle was used for, and yet it was likely used as a meeting place or some form of religious ritual.

The relationship of Long Meg to the stone circle suggests the possibility that it may have been used to sight the midwinter sun.

William Wordsworth wrote “Next to Stonehenge it is beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains”.

Long Meg and her Daughters Legends

The most famous of the many legends and local folklore that surround the stones of Long Meg is that they was once a coven of witches who were turned to stone by a wizard from Scotland named Michael Scot. It is said that the witches were celebrating their Sabbath when the wizard found them at it and turned them into stone.

It is also said the stones cannot be counted – but, if anyone is able to count them twice and come to the same total, the spell will be broken or it will bring very bad luck.

Another legend of the Long Meg stone circle states that if you walk round the circles and count the number of stones correctly, then put your ear to Long Meg, you will hear her whisper. The name itself is said to come from a local witch, Meg of Meldon, who was alive in the early 17th century.

More fascinating is the folklore that holds sway that if Long Meg and Her Daughters are moved or destroyed terrible misfortune, perhaps even a ferocious storm will fall upon those responsible. Story has it that a Colonel Lacy the land owner, of nearby Selkeld Hall decided to have the stones blasted with gun powder. When the work began a terrible thunder storm erupted from out of clear sky. This was taken by the labourers as a sign of the circle’s Supernatural power to defend itself – they fled in terror and would not carry out the work. The landowner then had a change of heart and left Long Meg and Her Daughters to themselves.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Long Meg Stone Circle please visit Long Meg Stone Circle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I hope you enjoy walking around this ancient monument of Long Meg Stone Circle as I did or even incorporating a visit in with a walk.

Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle near Penrith

Brougham Castle is situated some 2 miles from the market town of Penrith and is a fascinating place to visit and explore. It is also possible to determine the outline of the Roman fort on the south side of the castle, making for a fascinating exploration of nearly two thousand years of history, as well as an ideal picnic setting for a family day out within the beautiful river setting.

The castle was founded in the early 13th century on the site of a Roman fort and sits near the rivers Eamont and Lowther. In the castles earliest form it simply consisted of a stone keep, with an enclosure protected by an earthen bank with a wooden palisade. The Norman family of Robert de Vieuxpont built the Brougham castle, the ruins of which can still be seen today. The Vieuxponts were a powerful land- owning family in Northern England, owning Appleby and Brough castle.

Brougham Castle In 1268

By the time of 1268 Brougham castle had passed to Robert Clifford, whose father had become Lord of Brougham when he married Robert Vieuxpoint’s great granddaughter. With the Anglo -Scottish wars which started in 1296 Robert Clifford carried out much work at Brougham to strengthen the defences. The wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls and the large stone gate house was added.

The importance of Brougham and the Clifford family was such that in 1300 Edward 1 was hosted at the castle. The region was often at risk of attack from the Scots, and in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked. Following this the Clifford family began spending more time at their other castles and in particular Skipton castle in Yorkshire.

Brougham castle descended over several generations of the Clifford family, however in 1592 the castle was in a state of disrepair. In the early 17th century the castle was briefly restored to such an extent that James 1 was entertained at the castle in 1617.

Brougham Castle and Lady Anne Clifford

In 1643 Lady Anne Clifford inherited the family estates, including Brougham castle, Appleby Castle and Brough Castle, whilst setting about restoring them.

Brougham castle was kept in good order and repair by Lady Anne Clifford and for a short time after her death in 1676. However the Earl of Thanet, who had inherited the Clifford estates, sold its furnishings in 1714.

The then empty shell was left to decay as it was too costly to maintain. As a ruin Brougham castle inspired a painting by J M W Turner and was mentioned by William Wordsworth in his poem ‘The Prelude’.

In the 1930’s Brougham castle was left to the Ministry or Works and is today maintained by English Heritage.

Today Brougham castle features an introductory exhibition, with carved tombstones from the nearby Roman fort. A guide book is available which explains the history of Brougham castle and Brough Castle and includes plans and photographs of both castles.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Brougham Castle please visit Brougham Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

For me Brougham Castle is one of my favorites and I hope you enjoy visiting it as much as I did.

Brough Castle

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle Cumbria

Brough Castle is a ruined castle set within the Lakeland village of Brough, Cumbria. The castle consists of a large mound, upon which there is an extensive range of buildings, with a circular corner tower, and the remnants of an older four storey keep. There is free parking available within short walking distance.

The site of Brough Castle was originally the Roman fort of Verterae. Verterae was built to control the lands of the Brigantes and guard the Roman road linking Carlisle Castle with Ermine Street which today is the modern A66. The Roman fort will have covered a much larger area than the present Brough Castle and is now a scheduled Ancient Monument. The impressive Brough Castle stands on a ridge strategically commanding Stainmore Pass on the site of the old Roman fort.

Medieval Brough Castle

The first castle was built by William Rufus in the 1090’s within the northern part of the former fort. One of the first stone castles to be built in Britain the walls showing the herringbone pattern typical of Norman architecture.

In 1268 Brough Castle passed into the ownership of the Clifford family, who also owned Brougham Castle in the area. Robert Clifford carried out work here and at Brougham Castle building a new hall and semi-circular tower, now known as Clifford’s Tower as a residence for himself. The Clifford family, when visiting in Westmorland, would stay at Brough Castle until an accidental fire in 1521 destroyed much of the building. It was not occupied again until Lady Anne Clifford inherited it in 1643.

Lady Anne Clifford undertook restoration work on all the castles she inherited. Following her death the castle passed into the ownership of the earls of Thanet, who made their home at Appleby Castle in Appleby-in-Westmorland. It is from this point in time that Brough Castle began to decline into the ruin you see today, with much of the stone plundered in 1763 when Brough mill was built. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to visitors with guide books available for purchase from Brougham Castle shop.

Today it is possible to walk through the gatehouse and explore the ruins of Brough Castle with its imposing stone work and information boards explaining the layout of the castle. The keep that can be seen today is built on earlier Norman foundations and it is believed that the original structure was composed of stone and wood. The present keep was built in the 12thcentury.

The Keep at Brough Castle

The interior of the keep at Brough Castle has several interesting features that are visible from the ground such as doorways and fireplace settings that were for the upper floors. There are also some remaining structures such as stairs and passageways within the walls that are now inaccessible behind a locked gate.

I can recommend that you stand upon the high ground at the castle keep looking out towards the west and Brougham castle and Penrith castle and the stunning views. From this vantage point the strategic line of defence becomes apparent along what is now the A66.

The nice thing that stands out for me at Brough Castle is the simple distinguishing fact that the land upon which the castle now stands is owned by a local farmer who has opened an adjacent farm shop café with a small children’s play area comprising of several slides and swings. The café is but a stone’s throw from the castle walls and makes for a great sitting area whilst you enjoy a coffee and reflect on the history of this ancient fort.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Brough Castle please visit Brough Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Within sight of Brough castle walls is the church of St Michaels’s which is very picturesque and there is an exhibition with pictures and text about the region.

Dacre Castle Near Pooley Bridge

Dacre Castle

Dacre Castle

Dacre Castle

In 1307 William de Dacre was granted licence to crenellate his dwelling on the site (Actually the crenellation is for Dunmallard Hill, about ½ a mile away) of Dacre Castle.

Dacre Castle is a peel tower rather than a castle, with walls of seven feet thick and 66 feet high, and having 3 notable floors, whilst originally built in the 14th Century for protection against the Scots.

Marauding by the Scots was dying out in the 17th Century, and in 1675 the castle was made more habitable by Thomas Leonard the 15th Baron Dacre and first Earl of Sussex, who added the large windows. His arms can be seen above the door.

The Dacre castle and its extensive lands were bought in 1716 by Christopher Musgrave following the death of Lord Dacre, although it was then allowed to fall into disrepair. Musgrave’s daughter Julia married Edward Hasell who was granted the Dacre estates. These grants of land and property were absorbed into the Dalemain estate and used it as a farm house, whilst it still remains part of the Hasell estate.

The condition of Dacre Castle did not improve much until 1961 with the granting of a 10 year lease to a – Mrs Bunty Kinsman who was a famous beauty and leader of London Society, who took on the repair and restoration of the castle, whilst writing a book entitled ‘Pawn Takes Castle’. It is also discussed and rumoured localy that Kristine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies may have stayed at the castle, although how true this is no one knows.

Dacre Castle Near Pooley Bridge

The Dacre castle sits at the side of a small roadway, which fortunately is a right of way, and affords excellent close up views of the Dacre castle. The nearby Dacre village church of St Andrew is worth a visit with the famous Dacre Bears within the church yard.

The castle makes for a good Pooley Bridge circular walk taking in the stately home of Dalemain and the village church and Dacre Castle.

The location of Dacre Castle was once the meeting place of three kings in ancient times who got together (unsuccessfully) to arrange a peace treaty between England and Scotland. Their regretful ghosts are said to make an appearance at the castle to this day. However a much more macabre haunting has been described as follows.

A young heir to the Dacre Castle, Sir Guy of Dacre, fell in love with a young French girl by the name of Eloise, the daughter of a French nobleman. In order to win over her love, he asked one of his friends and his Italian tutor, to help woo her for him. Unfortunately the girl and his friend fell in love whilst Sir Guy was away fighting in Scotland and began a secret affair, which carried on even when Guy married her.

Sir Guy And Dacre Castle

When Sir Guy once again left Dacre Castle to fight in Scotland he entrusted the castle to his loyal friend Lyulph who soon learned of the affair.

Eventually the two lovers eloped and moved to York, although it wasn’t long before Sir Guy found them and captured his wife. He took her back to Dacre castle and locked her in the dungeon, where she found her lover chained to the wall. Unfortunately, he was already dead, and as she went to kiss him his head rolled on to the floor.

Sir Guy kept her imprisoned in Dacre Castle until she finally went insane and rotted away with her lover. It is the ghosts of these two lovers that are said to haunt the Dacre Castle to this day.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Dacre Castle please visit Dacre Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

There are some great walks around Dacre Castle, Pooley Bridge and the village pub of Dacre.

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Whilst visiting Penrith and the Northern Lake District it is worth stopping off for a walk around Penrith Castle which is situated in the pleasant surroundings of Castle Park, on the southern edge of the town, opposite the railway station. The Castle is accessed via a wooden footbridge that spans the Castle’s moat.

The imposing ruins of Penrith Castle have a unique and intriguing history, with its sandstone remains of the ‘Castle of the Kings’.

Penrith Castle

The castle was built in 1399, when William Strickland, later to become Bishop of Carlisle and Archbishop of Canterbury, added a stone wall to an earlier pele tower,  primarily as a defence against the Scottish raids.

Old Fireplace at Penrith Castle

Old Fireplace at Penrith Castle

In 1419 Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmorland inherited Penrith castle, whilst later developing it, with additions and improvements. A walled quadrangular castle was built but without the customary angle towers. Strickland’s Tower, the original pele tower house, flanked the castle’s entrance on the northeast front. Ralph Neville added the Red Tower and a new gatehouse on the northeast. Ralph Neville was killed at the battle of Barnet in 1471.

In July of 1471, the castle came into the possession of Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Lord Warden of the Marches Toward Scotland, as part of the Warwick inheritance becoming a royal fortress for Richard, before he became King Richard III in 1483. Richard added the banquet hall along with other additions, and during building work took up residence at the nearby Duke of Gloucester inn, and by 1672 the castle was in ruins.

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Orders where given to repair Penrith castle but during the Civil War, it suffered heavy damage, probably resulting in the ruins seen today. During the Civil War the castle was the headquarters for General Lambert, but not for long as most of the action took place around Eamont Bridge a mile to the south.

The castle and the town remained part of the Crown Estate until the reign of William III who gave it and most other Crown property in Cumberland to his friend Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland. The castle eventually passing from the Earls and Dukes of Portland, to the Dukes of Devonshire, who later sold it to the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway Company who built Penrith railway station opposite the site.

The castle later passed into the ownership of the Penrith Urban District Council, who in 1920 converted the grounds of Penrith castle into a public park and built housing nearby.

Site Plan Of Penrith Castle

Site Plan Of Penrith Castle

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Penrith Castle please visit Penrith Castle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Penrith Castle is a great ruin to visit anytime of the year and open all year round.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One has to wonder who built, and for what purpose Castlerigg Stone Circle, located within a short distance of Keswick, whilst believed to have been built around 3000 BC at the beginning of the Neolithic Period. Castlerigg is also one of the earliest stone circles in Britain, spectacularly situated a top of the plateau of Castlerigg Fell, within a panorama of rugged hills and fells of ever changing character, depending on the ever changing Lakeland weather and seasons.

Although the circles origins are unknown it is believed that it was used for ceremonial or religious purposes, whilst it is important in terms of megalithic astronomy and geometry, as the construction contains significant astronomical alignments.

Castlerigg Stone Circle consists of 38 stones of variable size and shape, whilst they are all un-hewn boulders, and natural in formation. Some of the stones stand over 5 in height, although some have fallen since the circles erection over the last 5,000 years. Just inside the eastern end of the circle is a group of 10 stones forming a rectangular enclosure known as a cove, the purpose of which is unknown. The circle is 32.6 metres at its widest and the heaviest stone has been estimated to weigh 16 tons.

Castlerigg Stone Circle was bought in 1913 by Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was a co-founder of the National Trust, and the stone circle is on land owned by the National Trust, whilst maintained by English Heritage.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Excavations within the cove, in 1882 provided very little in the way of archaeological finds, although quantities of charcoal where discovered. There is a wide space to the northern end of the circle, framed by two large stones, which may have served as an entrance. A stone axe head was found on the site in 1875.

On a more mysterious level Castlerigg Stone Circle has been the focus of one well-recorded sighting in 1919 by a man called T Singleton and his friend, of mysterious and strange light phenomena, as they watched white light balls moving slowly over the stones. Strange light themes are a recurring oddity to ancient sites throughout the world, and this may have been one of the reasons for the construction of such monuments at specific locations.

On a clear day you will be rewarded with spectacular rugged Lakeland panoramic views from Castlerigg Stone Circle, with some of the highest peaks in Cumbria, the mountains of Hellvellyn, Latrigg, Skiddaw, Grassmoor and Blencathra. The plateau of Castlerigg being surrounded by such peaks creates a natural amphitheatre with the raised Castlerigg Stone Circle at the centre.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Sitting within the stone circle on a summer’s solstice as the sun rises, surrounded by the power, beauty and authority of Mother Nature it is hard not to be in wonder at the original magnitude and real purpose of the circle. I am no historian, although 5,000 years ago where we not still hunter gatherers? Here at Castlerigg Stone Circle moving anything up to 16 ton of rugged stones about would be an arduous task today, so imagine why you would have even considered stepping out of your rural dwelling of 5,000 years ago without any of life’s modern luxuries to construct such a lasting monument as Castlerigg Stone Circle, when surely survival would have been top of my priority list.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this walk please visit Castlerigg Stone Circle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle is an informative and fun day out for all the family. Founded in 1092 to protect the historic city of Carlisle, you can hear about the role Carlise castle played in various sieges and battles.

Carlisle Castle

You can also hear about the ghastly prison and grim tales of ther castle’s past, including the infamous “licking stones”, where parched prisoners found moisture to stay alive. There is also a model of the city in 1745, and an exhibition on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rising of that year.

Parking can be an issue in Carlisle with a lot of pay and display car parks close to the castle. This makes free parking very hard to find or alternativly you will have to park on the outskirts of the city and walk in.

Enjoy your visit to Carlisle Castle.